Telling the stories of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia

+Michael Curry preaches to Aotearoa

The Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa regular Sunday morning online services have ended on a high note with a sermon from the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA, the Most Reverend Michael Curry, who shared his vision of a new world based on Jesus’ radical, life-changing way of love.
• Watch Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon on Facebook (Starts at 14.50min)

Bishop Michael Curry  |  08 Jun 2020  |

On the festival of Pentecost on Sunday 31 May the Pihoptanga o Aotearoa streamed its last regular Sunday morning online service as restrictions on in-person worship in Aotearoa New Zealand churches eased to a limit of 100 people last week.

The final service in the series of online worship opportunities that the Pihoptanga has hosted to share karakia with whanau around the motu and the world, ended on a high note with a kauwhau from Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA, Bishop Michael Curry.

A transcript of Bishop Michael's full sermon follows below.


 Pentecost Sermon for Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa
– Episcopal Church USA Presiding Bishop Michael Curry 

Greetings to all our friends in the Anglican province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. To all your primates, clergy and people I bring you greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the name of your brothers and sisters and siblings who are the Episcopal Church [USA].

And now, in the name of our loving, living and liberating God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

We are observing Pentecost, sometimes spoken of as the birthday of the Jesus movement that became known as the church. We observe Pentecost, and live Pentecost, in a time of global pandemic.

What do we need? What do we need, as the book of Esther in the Hebrew scriptures says, for such a time as this?

What do we need, as one hymn writer has said for “the living of these days”?

What do we need?

I believe Jesus told us what we need. He has shown us the way.

On the evening of Easter, that first Easter day, he appeared to some of his frightened followers who were hiding behind closed doors.

John’s gospel in the 20th chapter, records what he said this way;

Peace be with you! As the father has loved me, so have I loved you.

And then he breathed on them.

He breathed on them, and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’


“There’s a sweet sweet Spirit in this place,

and I know it is the Spirit of the lord…”

Sweet Holy Spirit, sweet heavenly dove,

Stay right here with us, filling us with your love.

And for these blessings we lift our hearts in praise,

without a doubt that we’ll know,

that we have been revived, when we shall leave this place.”


We need the Spirit, we need the Spirit.

We need the Spirit to revive us, we need the Spirit to guide us and we need the Spirit to show us how to love.

We need the Spirit to revive us.

I have no doubt that when Jesus breathed on his followers that day and said,  Receive the Holy Spirit, he knew on some level that they would know the stories of the Hebrew scriptures.

I suspect the master knew, that when he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit,' they would well remember the story of creation.

How God took the human creature Adam and moulded this Adam into a being – but not yet a living being – and that how Genesis says, ‘And God breathed into Adam, the breath of life.’

 They would remember that story when Jesus breathed on them and said 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'


I suspect he also knew, that they might well remember the story of Ezekiel and the Valley of Dry Bones.

The Hebrew prophet Ezekiel.

How Ezekiel prophesied in a time of hardship for the people of God, a time of exile – when they were taken away from their home and forced to live in another land not their own.

How they had to live in a time of virtual slavery, if you will, otherwise known or called ‘exile’.

How they cried out, ‘How can we shall the Lord’s song in a strange land?’

How they wept for remembering Jordan, Jerusalem.

How they, like some other singers, would in a sense sing, ‘sometimes I feel like a motherless child, a long, long way from home.’

In that time, in that context, in that moment, the prophet Ezekiel had a vision.

It was vision of God’s people feeling like dead, dying, decaying bones.

And the prophet had a vision of a valley.

And in the valley he saw all of these bones – dry bones.

Maybe the bones of great military conflict that had happened years before.

The bones of people who were once alive.

Dry bones bleached by the sun and its heat.


And the voice of God spoke to the prophet Ezekiel in his vision.

“Mortal one, shall these bones live?”

And Ezekiel answered – as prophets do in the Bible – he said, ‘Lord thou knowest.’

And then the Lord said to him, “Well Ezekiel, prophesy to the bones.”

And you can imagine Ezekiel said, ‘Lord, you want me to PROPHESY TO BONES?’

“Prophesy to the bones! Preach my word to the bones!”

Ezekiel probably reared back in the vision, kind of reared back, and said,

’Oh! Dry bones! Hear the word of the Lord!

And when he prophesied to the bones in the vision, it says the bones started to shake and rattle and move.
But they did not come back to life.

And the Lord said to Ezekiel,

“Now I want you to breathe on the bones.

Breathe on the bones and call down the wind, call down my Spirit.”

And so Ezekiel reared back and breathed on the bones.

And now they weren’t just shaking and rattling.

Now those dead, dry, bones came back to life.

When Jesus leaned over Peter, (+Michael breathes) leaned over Andrew, (+M breathes) leaned over Mary Magdalene (+M breathes) and breathed on them.

They remembered Ezekiel.

Like that old hymn says:

“Breathe on me, breath of God,

Fill me with life anew,

that I may love what thou dost love,

and do what thou wouldst do”

When he breathed on them, they knew he was reviving them to life.

We need the Spirit to revive us to real life again.




During the Second World War, the late Harry Emerson Fosdick – who was arguably one of the great preachers of the 20th century – pastor of the great Riverside Church in New York.

During that war, Fosdick published a series of sermons that he had preached during the horror and the hardship of a worldwide war. An entire world at war: millions dead, most of them civilians; millions wounded; millions uprooted and homeless.

A world at war.

One of the sermons that he preached in that volume, at that time, was sermon that he titled, “No dry as dust religion will do now.”

He was not speaking of emotive or showmanship religion.

“No dry as dust religion will do,” he said in that sermon.

There is no substitute in a time such as this, for a genuine – a real – loving, liberating, life-giving relationship with the living God.

There is no substitute for it, “No dry as dust religion will do,” in such a time as this.

My brothers and sisters.


We need the Spirit.

We need the Spirit to revive us.

To revive us who follow in the way of Jesus.


To revive all of the people who dwell upon the face of the earth.
So that we might live lives of integrity and honour and dignity and learn how to join hands with one another as children of God.
We need the Spirit to revive us.


But there’s something else.
We need the Spirit to guide us, to lead us.
Because we can’t see completely where we’re going.


I was in a Zoom meeting, (like many of you I’m spending a lot of time on Zoom meetings). I was in one about a month ago with some wonderful and prominent leaders in the Episcopal Church.

And one of them said something in the course of the conversation, and I can’t get it out of my mind. He said, 

“Leading in such a time as this, is like driving down a foggy road in the middle of the night. And all you can really see is the front of the car. But you have to make decisions now, not for what’s at the front of the car, but what’s a mile down a foggy road in the middle of night that you can’t see.”

We need the Spirit to lead us, to guide us, to show us the way.

Jesus said that’s the Spirit’s work.

At the last supper in John’s gospel, Jesus was telling his followers what they needed to know, because he was about to be killed and taken away from them.

And he was telling them what they will need for the days ahead. And this is what he says in Chapter 16 of John’s gospel.

(Now think about it, this is the last supper. Judas has already left to betray him. Peter will soon deny him, most of them will abandon him.)

And in those moments, he says to them,

“I have many more things that I could tell you, but you could not bear them now.”

But when the Spirit of truth comes, when the Spirit comes, the Spirit will lead you into all truth.

“Lead me, guide me along the way,” says the hymn, “for if you lead me, I cannot stray.”


We need the Spirit to revive us.
And we need the Spirit to guide us.
But lastly, we need the Spirit to show us how to love.


“There’s a sweet sweet Spirit in this place” – listen to the hymn writer –

“And I know it is the Spirit of the Lord,

Sweet Holy Spirit, sweet heavenly dove,

Stay right here with us, filling us with your love.”

Jesus saw that there was a close and intimate relationship between the Spirit of God and the way of love that he taught and lived for.

In John, Chapters 13 -17 (which is John’s version of the last supper), Jesus is telling his disciples, he’s trying to tell them everything they need to know, because he’s going to be killed, he’s going to be crucified, he’s going to be executed and he’s giving them his last will and testament if you will.

And in that testament at the last supper he talks about the Spirit of truth.

He says, I will not leave you comfortless, I will not leave you orphan, I will send the Spirit of truth, I’ll come to you, I will ask the Father and he will send you the Spirit.

There are many more things that I could tell you, but right now you can’t handle them.


But when the Spirit comes, the Spirit will lead you into all truth.

He tells them you’re going to need the Spirit when the crisis comes.

But he doesn’t stop there.


In those same chapters, Jesus says in Chapter 13,

“A new commandment I give you, that you love one another.”

In those same chapters, he says

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples. that you love one another.”

In those same chapters he says,  

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now abide and dwell in my love.”


“Oh, there’s a sweet, sweet Spirit in this place, 

And I know it is the Spirit of the Lord.

Sweet Holy Spirit, sweet heavenly dove,

Stay right here with us, filling us with your love.”




We need the Spirit to show us how to love.
Saint Paul realised this, when in Romans he said and I quote, (and this is about hard times),

“We do not only weep and moan, but we boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

“Spirit, stay right here with us, filling us with your love.”

Saint Paul would say in Galatians that the Spirit, that its ‘first fruit’ is love.
Galatians 5: the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, patience, kindness and on and on, but the first fruit is love.
Love of God, love of neighbour, and Paul actually says, to love your neighbour as yourself is to fulfill the whole law.

Spirit, fill us with your love, teach us how to live.
The love that Jesus taught and teaches is a way of life that is unselfish, that is sacrificial, that looks like Jesus sacrificing himself for others.
It is a love that seeks the good and the welfare and the wellbeing of others before the self’s unenlightened self-interest.

It is the love of the Good Samaritan helping somebody on the road of life.
That’s what it means to love your neighbour.
And that is the first fruit of the Spirit, and in our time, in our context, I suspect that it may well be the case, that maybe one act of self-sacrificial love that we can do for each other.

Not for ourselves, but for others, is just simply this (puts on a face mask).
The public health people tell us that I do this not to protect Michael. I do this to protect you, and you do it to protect me.
This simple act that may become part of our way of life in this time, it is an act of love for the neighbour.

And when I love my neighbour and my neighbour loves me, we make a world where there’s room for us all.


When I was a child, in about the fifth or sixth grade,* my mother had a massive cerebral haemorrhage. And she lived in a coma for a good year and a half, almost two years, and then she eventually succumbed and died. During that time my grandmother came in, and kind of moved in, and helped our Daddy raise two children.

And I remember enjoying grandma and daddy when they would banter back and forth.

My father was an Episcopal priest, an Anglo-Catholic priest, a biretta-wearing priest, and Grandma was a dyed-in-the-wool, rock-red North Carolina Baptist.

And they used to tease other, cause they loved each other deeply.

And they would tease each other about religion.

And I remember every once in a while, Grandma would say,

 “You know, in my church when somebody gets the Spirit, somebody’s gonna shout,
somebody’s gonna clap their hands, somebody might get up and raise their hands,
somebody might do a holy dance. Somebody’s gonna do something.
You know when the Spirit’s come, cause somebody’s gonna do something.”

And then she would jokingly, with a twinkle in her eye, look at Daddy,
“Now how do y’all know when somebody gets the Spirit in your church?”

They joked back and forth like that all the time.
They respected each other’s faith and made sure that we learned both of those faiths.
And if you scratch underneath the surface of Michael Curry, and look for the deeper spirituality, you’ll probably find Nellie Strayhorn, that old North Carolina Baptist.

When Mommy finally died, after the service and when we went back to the house for the repast – you know all the food and folk all over the house – I remember Grandma – I overheard her saying to Daddy – (looking around the room, and knowing how folk had supported us in those hard times) she said,

“You know when the Spirit has shown up, when people love you like this.”

The Spirit of God is the heart of God.

And the heart of God – (as 1 John, Chapter 4 says) – is love.




We need the Spirit.
To revive us again.
To guide us anew.

To show us how to love, and in so doing, to show us how to live and to build and make a better world for all of God’s children.

“There’s a sweet, sweet, Spirit in this place,

And I know it is the Spirit of the Lord.

Sweet, Holy Spirit, sweet heavenly dove,

Stay right here with us, filling us with your love.”

And for these blessings,

we lift our hearts in praise.

Without a doubt we’ll know,

that we have been revived

when we shall leave this place.”

God love you,
God bless you
and may God hold us all
in those Almighty hands of love.







*  In the US school system, children in fifth -sixth grade range between 10-12 years of age.